Second Covid-19 Wave Fears: Europe‘s Economy Reeling from Pandemic Lockdown

Written by | Thursday, June 25th, 2020

South Korean authorities have said the country is currently undergoing a second wave of the coronavirus in and around the capital Seoul, and warned that stricter physical-distancing measures will be reimposed if the daily increase in infections does not come down. Also the Israeli government said a lockdown could be reintroduced amid a sharp rise in cases, while in Australia, a team of contact tracing experts is to be deployed to tackle a new outbreak in Melbourne. The new outbreaks highlight the difficult and complex task of fully eradicating the coronavirus even in countries considered role models in their initial response to the pandemic.
In Europe, Portugal has reimposed restrictions in the capital Lisbon on gatherings of more than 10 people while Spanish authorities have ordered three areas in the north-eastern region of Aragón back into the penultimate phase of the lockdown de-escalation process. Spain’s health minister, Salvador Illa, said the outbreak was “being brought under control” on Monday morning. The spike in cases in seven US states yesterday (23 June) have further increased concerns about a second wave in Covid-19 cases, which has seen major European stock markets – UK’s FTSE 100, Germany’s DAX and France’s CAC – sliding deeper into the red today.
Meanwhile, the coronavirus crisis is having a serious impact on Europe’s most vulnerable, with the Covid-19 pandemic expected to increase the number of deprived people, and making it harder for those who are already struggling. The lives of Europe‘s poorest people are severely constrained by a lack of resources, which means that they are not even able to pay rent or basic utility bills, keep their homes warm enough, eat good quality food or go for a week’s holiday. In 2019, 5.6% of the EU’s population, or around 24 million people, found themselves in this situation. Now it’s predicted the Covid-19 pandemic will significantly increase the number of deprived people in Europe, with Bulgaria (19,9%), Greece (15,9%) and Romania (12,6%) being affected by the highest levels of severe deprivation in the EU as of last year. This risk is especially high for young people, those with low levels of education, and single parent families, especially those headed by women.
These higher levels of deprivation come as unemployment across the EU has risen – from 6,4 to 6,6% in April – due to the coronavirus pandemic, with airline companies and the automobile sector making some of the biggest job cuts. While furlough schemes (putting workers on temporary leave and the government paying a percentage of their salaries) across Europe are helping some shield from the economic impact of COVID-19, others are less fortunate. Among the major European companies making job cuts are, for example, British Petroleum (10,000 jobs), British Airways (up to 12,000 jobs), EasyJet (around 4,500 jobs), Ryanair (about 3,000 jobs), Renault (15,000 jobs), Airbus (up to 10,000 jobs), Tui (8,000 jobs), Thyssenkrupp (3,000 jobs), Lufthansa (22,000 jobs), Nissan (2,800 jobs) and Scandinavia Airlines (5,000 jobs).

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